Thursday, September 01, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 1st September

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice,” Psalm 95:6-7 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"On mine arm shall they trust."
Isaiah 51:5

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is on its beam-ends, and no human deliverance can avail, he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends; but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn, he flies into his Father's arms, and is blessedly clasped therein! When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord then than at any other time. Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that drives thee to thy Father! Now that thou hast only thy God to trust to, see that thou puttest thy full confidence in him. Dishonour not thy Lord and Master by unworthy doubts and fears; but be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Show the world that thy God is worth ten thousand worlds to thee. Show rich men how rich thou art in thy poverty when the Lord God is thy helper. Show the strong man how strong thou art in thy weakness when underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Now is the time for feats of faith and valiant exploits. Be strong and very courageous, and the Lord thy God shall certainly, as surely as he built the heavens and the earth, glorify himself in thy weakness, and magnify his might in the midst of thy distress. The grandeur of the arch of heaven would be spoiled if the sky were supported by a single visible column, and your faith would lose its glory if it rested on anything discernible by the carnal eye. May the Holy Spirit give you to rest in Jesus this closing day of the month.

Evening

"If we walk in the light, as he is in the light."
1 John 1:7

As he is in the light! Can we ever attain to this? Shall we ever be able to walk as clearly in the light as he is whom we call "Our Father," of whom it is written, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all?" Certainly, this is the model which is set before us, for the Saviour himself said, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect;" and although we may feel that we can never rival the perfection of God, yet we are to seek after it, and never to be satisfied until we attain to it. The youthful artist, as he grasps his early pencil, can hardly hope to equal Raphael or Michael Angelo, but still, if he did not have a noble beau ideal before his mind, he would only attain to something very mean and ordinary. But what is meant by the expression that the Christian is to walk in light as God is in the light? We conceive it to import likeness, but not degree. We are as truly in the light, we are as heartily in the light, we are as sincerely in the light, as honestly in the light, though we cannot be there in the same measure. I cannot dwell in the sun, it is too bright a place for my residence, but I can walk in the light of the sun; and so, though I cannot attain to that perfection of purity and truth which belongs to the Lord of hosts by nature as the infinitely good, yet I can set the Lord always before me, and strive, by the help of the indwelling Spirit, after conformity to his image. That famous old commentator, John Trapp, says, "We may be in the light as God is in the light for quality, but not for equality." We are to have the same light, and are as truly to have it and walk in it as God does, though, as for equality with God in his holiness and purity, that must be left until we cross the Jordan and enter into the perfection of the Most High. Mark that the blessings of sacred fellowship and perfect cleansing are bound up with walking in the light.

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Today's reading: Psalm 132-134, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (NIV)

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 132-134

A song of ascents.

1 LORD, remember David
and all his self-denial.

2 He swore an oath to the LORD,
he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
3 "I will not enter my house
or go to my bed,
4 I will allow no sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
5 till I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob."

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Correcting an Abuse of the Lord's Supper
17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

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Methuselah, Mathusala

[MÄ“tho̅o̅'se lah] - a man of the javelinor it shall be sent (deluge). The son of Enoch, and grand-father of Noah, who lived longer than any other man recorded in history (Gen. 5:21-27).

The Man Who Lived the Longest

The Bible represents human life as vastly prolonged before the Flood. Afterwards it grew rapidly briefer. The longevity of the antediluvian races proves that the constitution of man was different from what it is today. With the Flood a change took place so that now the duration of human life is rarely over one hundred years. No strength of constitution, temperance or vegetable diet can add years to such a limit. The instructive register of Genesis five shows that the man who lived for the shortest period lived for 365 years, and the one who lived for the longest period lived for 969 years.

The remarkable longevity served a useful purpose in that it made possible the reception and preservation of ancient traditions. Perhaps Adam lived for about 113 years after the birth of Methuselah, and Methuselah could not have been more than 369 years old when his grandson Noah was born. Thus, Noah conversed with one who had conversed with Adam and Enoch had the privilege of conversing with Adam. God knows how to preserve His truth for the guidance and sanctification of succeeding generations.

Although Methuselah, whose name was fitting for a time when the earth was full of violence, lived for almost a millennium, nothing whatever is recorded of his long life save the birth of his children. What an immense influence he could have exerted through the years if only, like his father Enoch, he had walked with God! It is not the length of a life that counts, but thequality of it.

Why did Methuselah die thirty-one years short of a millennium? Has God reserved the privilege of living for one thousand years for the millennial saints? During our Lord's millennial reign, life is to be prolonged again, so that one hundred years shall be the duration of childhood, and a grown man's ordinary age shall be in the age of a tree (Isa. 65:20, 22).

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August 31, 2011

Silent Longings

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

She (Hagar) gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me' (Genesis 16:13, NIV).

Friend To Friend

Everyone wants to be noticed, to be cared for, to be loved. How my heart breaks with David's words, "No one cares for my soul" (Psalm 142:4 ). He is crying out during one of the darkest times in his life and felt all alone in his struggle to survive. We might expect to hear those words from the crowded city streets as men and women scurry about in their power suits off to make the next deal. We wouldn't be surprised to hear those words from a vagrant huddled under a bridge with all his worldly possessions stuffed in a plastic grocery bag. But would we expect it from the person sitting beside us in the church pew, the co-worker in the next cubicle, or the mother of three next door?

While flying from the east coast to the west coast, I watched an in flight movie, a cleaned up version of What Women WantstaringMel Gibson. Mr. Marshal (Mel Gibson) worked at an advertising firm with a host of busy men and women bustling about in their own little self-absorbed worlds. In a strange twist of events, Mr. Marshal is "electrically altered" when he slips in the bathroom and falls into the bathtub, along with a hair dryer. When he regains consciousness after his shocking experience, he has the ability to read women's minds and hear their thoughts. With his new perceptive powers, he lands a huge Nike advertising account and wins the heart of the leading lady...of course. But there is one poignant sideline of the movie that grabbed my heart.

In the movie, one young nondescript woman in his office had thoughts that stopped Marshal in his tracks. What if I just jumped out the window? Would anyone notice? I could be gone for days and no one would notice...until the files started piling up. Then they'd say, 'Where's the geek with the glasses who carries the files?'

No one did notice the errand girl who refused to make eye contact with her fellow employees, except Marshal, who could hear her thoughts.

One day, the young women (who we learn is named Erin), doesn't show up for work?

"Where's Erin?" Marshal asked as he notices a pile of files sitting on her desk.

"I don't know," someone replies. "She didn't show up for work today."

Fearing the worst, Marshal locates Erin's address and dashes out to stop her from ending her life.

Bursting into her apartment Marshal sees a suicide letter lying on the table and his heart sinks. A startled Erin walks into the room.

"Mr. Marshal, what are you doing here?"

"I'm glad I got here before you hurt yourself?" he replied.

"What makes you think I was going to hurt myself?"

"I just sensed it," he answered.

"Really? You sensed it? That's not good."

Then Marshal brilliantly changes course. "The real reason I'm here is to offer you a job. You know we got the Nike account and we were wondering who would be a real spitfire to work on this project..." Marshal offers Erin a job and rescues her from the despair of feeling unwanted, unloved, and unimportant.

I'm not suggesting that you watch the movie. After all, it was a cleaned up airline version. However, I am suggesting that you ponder the situation. I believe that men and women walk past us every day, just like Erin in this movie, who feel that they have no significant purpose in this world. Like Erin, I know that there are many who feel that their sudden disappearance would cause little fanfare or concern. It might be the woman who passes you in the hall at work, the rebellious looking teen who shuffles by you at the mall, or the businessman dashing to his next appointment. It takes so little to let someone know that they are significant. We have the ability to give someone hope by offering a simple word of acknowledgement.

Dr. David Jeremiah wrote, "We are shaped by those who love us or refuse to love us, and by those whom we love or refuse to love" (Dr. David Jeremiah, The Power of Encouragement(Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah, 1997), p. 13) . It is an amazing opportunity given to each of us as we walk through our day to shape and mold those around us with a simple word of encouragement, acknowledgement, or appreciation. The world is crying out for love - a positive word, a tender touch, a morsel of praise. Sometimes a simple "hello" can be a boost to someone starving to be noticed. Many people are so lonely that any token of attention is like a drop of rain on dry parched ground.

Jesus met a woman who felt very insignificant - bone weary and bone dry. As he talked to her by a well, He said, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13, 14 NIV). Yes, Jesus is the living water that people need. Isn't it amazing that He allows us to hold the cup - to offer the only drink that will satisfy.

Let's Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You that you always see me and notice what I'm going through. You know every hair on my head! Help me to never loose sight of the fact that I am very significant in Your eyes. You loved me so much that You gave Your Son, Jesus, so that I might have eternal life with You. I praise Your Holy Name.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen

Now It's Your Turn

Let's go back up to today's truth. Hagar was a woman who felt ignored and all alone. But then God showed up.

Go back and read her amazing story in Genesis 16.

What do You learn about God from this story?

Hagar was not one of God's chosen people, and yet, He cared for her. The Hebrew name that she gave God was El Roi, the God who Sees. Remember today that God sees you!

More From The Girlfriends

For most of us, we get to a point in our lives where we realize life has not turned out like we thought it would. But would you dare to dream again? God has great plans for you! Grab His hand and go to the place that He planned all along. To discover God's amazing plan for your life, see Dreams of a Woman-God's Plans for Fulfilling Your Dreams by Sharon Jaynes and begin to dream again.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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P31Header
Renee Swope

August 31, 2011

Living Beyond the Shadow of My Doubts
Renee Swope

"You are a chosen [woman], a royal [priest], a holy [daughter], God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

I stood in front of my bathroom mirror getting ready for a large event while begging God to zap me with confidence, or send Jesus back before it was time for me to speak. I had been struggling with paralyzing self-doubt that week, and it was making me question everything.

Although I was honored when the event leader called months before, now I questioned why I'd accepted the invitation. And my internal dialogue was relentless...What if I forget what I'm going to say? What if my points aren't that powerful? What if they don't connect with my stories or laugh at my humor? What if...?

When I turned around to put something in my suitcase behind me, I noticed a huge nine-foot shadow on the wall. I was surprised how big the shadow was and how much it distorted the image of my five-foot, two-inch frame.

All of a sudden, I realized my uncertainty had also created a huge shadow-a shadow of doubt. It was distorting my thoughts and overpowering my emotions.

As I stood there looking at the humongous shadow, I sensed God whispering to my heart: Renee, you can only see the shadow because you have turned away from the light. Turn back toward the light.

Slowly I turned back toward the lights above the mirror, and realized I was no longer standing in the shadow. And, I also realized I had created the shadow by blocking the light.

Shadows are created all around us when something blocks light. And so it is with the shadow of doubt. When we focus on ourselves and how inadequate we feel, or what others are thinking about us, we cast a shadow of doubt in our minds and block the light of God's Truth in our hearts.

Yet, we were not designed to block the light or to be the light.

We were created to live in the Light, by focusing on what God thinks about us instead. I love how John the Baptist is described as "a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light." (John 1:7-8, NIV)

The same is true for us. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12b, NIV) When we follow Jesus closely in our thoughts, we find our confidence in Him.

As we shift the focus from our feelings of inadequacy to His promises of all-sufficiency, we can exchange our lack of self-confidence with lasting God-confidence. And in doing so, our lives become a witness, testifying of the One who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9, NIV).

Are you ready to become a more Jesus-dependent, God-confident woman whose assurance is found in Him alone? If so, when you find yourself standing in the shadow of self-doubt, instead of wishing for more self-confidence, pray for lasting God-confidence! Then turn towards the Light so your heart can focus on and live in the security of His promises:

• When you feel inadequate, remember God says: You are CHOSEN.

"'You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.'" (Isa. 43:10a, NIV)

• When you feel unable or unstable, God says: You areABLE.

"The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights." (Hab. 3:19, NIV)

• When you feel unworthy, remember God says: You areLOVED.

"You are precious and honored in my sight, and...I love you." (Isa. 43:4a, NIV)

Lord, Your Word says I am a chosen woman, a royal priest, a holy daughter, a woman belonging to You. Help me remember that You have called me out of the shadows of my doubts to tell others about the Light and hope I've found in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
You can download a list of more powerful promises fromRenee's blog where she's also giving away a series of Confident Heart conference calls. Click here to find out more and enter to win!

We're celebrating the release of Renee's new book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises. To find out more about this life-changing message or order a copy, click here.

Join Melissa Taylor's FREE Confident Heart online Bible study based on Renee's book, A Confident Heart. It starts September 19th! Sign up here.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you support the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. Thank you for each and every purchase you make with us!

Application Steps:
What are your most common thoughts of self-doubt and how do they make you feel? (inadequate, uncertain, indecisive, etc.) Click here for a list of powerful promises to replace them.

Reflections:
"When we focus our attention on ourselves, we turn our attention away from God. We leave no room in our thoughts to listen to what God is thinking about us, because we have given that place away to be occupied by other people's opinions." - from A Confident Heart

Power Verses:
Luke 24:38, "Why are you frightened?" [Jesus] asked. "Why are your hearts filled with doubt?" (NLT)

Romans 8:6, "The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." (NASB)

© 2011 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Immediate Impact: Unsolicited fame finds Jesus

Today's reading: Mark 1

Mark 1:28: News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

Although the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all cover basically the same ground, each one looks at Jesus' life from a unique angle. For example, Matthew and Luke begin with historical background, taking pains to verify Jesus' Old Testament connections. Mark plunges right in to report on Jesus' actions.

After John the Baptist fans enthusiasm for Jesus-so much enthusiasm, in fact, that John lands in jail-Jesus openly announces his ministry. He has some surprises in store for the eager audience. For one thing, Jesus goes, not to Jerusalem, the natural center of activity for any aspiring leader, but to small towns in the hill country of Galilee.

New Style of Prophet

Jesus has spent his childhood in Galilee, in the obscure town of Nazareth, which leads some sophisticates to scoff, "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" (John 1:46). Except for festival times when he travels to Jerusalem, Jesus shows a marked preference for small towns and rural areas, especially in the remote northern region of Galilee.

In other ways, too, Jesus does not fit the expected image of a prophet. His cousin John personifies the severe ascetic image: He lives in a desert, eats insects and preaches a harsh message of judgment. But Jesus lives in the midst of people, dines in their homes and brings a message of "the good news of God."

Although Jesus may not be a conventional leader, as soon as he begins healing people, his reputation swells overnight. News of his miraculous power spreads, even when he tries to hush it up. The word about an amazing, unconventional kind of prophet gets out.

Life Question

  • Considering what you have read about Jesus so far, what characteristic about him surprises you most?

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